Alzheimer's Myth and Facts

There are many misconceptions and myths surrounding Alzheimer’s disease but through education and awareness we can become understanding and better equipped to respond to individuals and families that struggle with the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and degenerative condition affecting the brain and is most commonly diagnosed in individuals over age 65. Although aging is the most significant risk factor, genetics is believed to play a part. Research confirms however, that the inherited form of Alzheimer’s accounts for only a small percentage of those with the disease.

There are many risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and it develops only if and when there are too many factors present, and these risk factors overwhelm the brain’s ability to repair and maintain itself.

While the risk factors of aging and genetics cannot be controlled, we do have the ability to reduce our risk by making healthy lifestyle choices that in turn help us maintain a healthy brain.

Misconceptions and Facts about Alzheimer’s

Following are some common misconceptions along with clarification about Alzheimer’s disease.

Myth: Memory loss is a sure sign of Alzheimer’s disease
Some form of memory loss happens to many of us but memory loss alone may not necessarily indicate that a person has Alzheimer’s. Age related memory loss becomes a concern when it affects every-day life. For example, typical memory loss could be misplacing an item and then retracing one’s steps to recover the misplaced item.  An individual with Alzheimer’s may put items in unusual places and find that they are unable to retrace their steps.

A person with Alzheimer’s may forget important dates and events, recently learned information and repeatedly ask the same question. Their memory loss may be accompanied by lack of judgment and reasoning along with an inability to communicate. If these symptoms are present, seek the advice of a physician to determine the cause.

Myth: Alzheimer’s affects only old people
While age is the strongest risk factor, not all elderly people will develop Alzheimer’s disease in fact most will never experience it. Individuals younger than 60 and even 50 have been diagnosed, but it’s important to understand that Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.

Myth: Alzheimer’s is preventable
There is presently no known treatment to prevent Alzheimer’s but research is finding that there are healthy lifestyle choices to help us keep body and brain fit and in turn lower the risk of developing the disease.

A healthy balanced diet along with mental and physical activity may help lower the risks. Try to keep stress under control, and monitor blood pressure, cholesterol levels and sugar levels.

Retirement Homes and seniors centers today provide opportunities to stay active and involved. Challenge your brain by learning new skills; stimulate your brain with crosswords or memory games; become a regular at the fitness center. All of these activities will not only keep you physically and mentally fit, they’ll have a positive effect on your well-being

Myth: If diagnosed my life is over
It’s possible to live an active, meaningful and purposeful life even with Alzheimer’s. Research has made it easier to diagnose earlier than it once was, and there are medications that may help slow the progression of the disease. A positive, supportive environment will go a long way in enriching the quality of life for the person living with Alzheimer’s.  

Myth: People with Alzheimer’s don’t know what’s happening around them
Individuals may experience difficulty with life around them but many people with Alzheimer’s understand their surroundings quite well. Alzheimer’s affects each individual differently and while it has an impact on how each one makes sense of their world, it’s important to remember that the person with the disease is still the same person and should be treated with the same respect and dignity as always.

Visit Alzheimer's Care in Ontario page on to learn more about Alzheimer's Retirement Homes in ON.

Written by Alice Lucette

Photo by kevin dooley of flickr

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